So today, while recovering from that which is Harry Potter, me, Ashley and Javi watched The Pagemaster with Lewis. Who was going to watch it alone in his room. Because he leads a sad life. A sad, sad life. Anywhoo, me and Lewis had both seen the movie when we were kids and treasured it for the ridiculous chunk of nostalgia it is. Javi and Ashley meanwhile, who apparently grew up in a box that was free of children's films and pop culture milestones, had not seen it. Which desperately needed to be rectified. As soon as possible, and so we watched it and I learned some things, such as The Pagemaster is not that awesome (which admittedly I already sort of knew), the kid's parents hate him and are actively trying to kill him (I'll get to that), and the most horrifyingly overt: Christopher Lloyd's character of the librarian/pagemaster is creepy as hell and about an inch away from molesting the film's young hero.
Hooray for childhood!
Hey waittaminute, there's something weird about the pagemaster on this cover...
Moving on...The Pagemaster came out in 1994, back when Culkin was still tiny and marketable. Here he plays Richard Tyler, a kid who is terrified of pretty much everything ever and spends all his time explaining to his parents why, citing statistics of all the horrible accidents that can happen to you just by existing. This frustrates his father, played by Ed Begley Jr, and leads to what we determined where his attempts to kill his son. Stay with me on this one. He tries to build Richard a tree-house despite the fact that Richard is scared of heights, and ladders...and trees. After a hi-larious ladder-related mishap, he sends young Richard (who can't be any older than nine or ten) off to the hardware store to buy more nails. Alone. On his bike. Down a winding country road that goes through a long dark tunnel and a spooky forest.
Instead, Richard gets waylaid by a storm and must seek shelter in a library that is completely deserted, with the exception of the librarian, played by Christopher Lloyd with facial hair that screams "Hi! I am legally required to tell you that I am a registered sex offender!"
And it gets worse from there as he shakes the terrified Richard vigorously, telling him "I have a talent for guessing what people need. You're in need of a fantasy!"
Richard finally gets Captain Creepster to direct him to a phone so his dad can come pick him up. But before he can make it the phone, he trips on nothing and is knocked unconscious. He wakes up later and the ceiling gets all 90's CGI melty and absorbs his ass, turning him...
Animated Richard meets up with Christopher Lloyd in animated Pagemaster form, who tells him that he can exit the library but is full of crap and sends Richard on a massive quest instead, because the Pagemaster is kind of a dick. Richard gets three irritating sidekicks in the form of three living-book-thingies, Fantasy voiced by Whoopi Goldberg, Horror, voiced by Frank Welker, and Adventure, voiced by Patrick Stewart. I will say this much, this movie is worth watching to hear Captain Picard talk like a pirate.
And speaking of Picard, this movie is brimming with Star Trek people. Apart from Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg (yes she was on Star Trek) Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance as Dr. Jekyll, Robert Picardo, the Doctor from Voyager is Random Pirate #12, and Ed Begley Jr even guest starred on Star Trek a couple times. Weird.
Anyway, Richard gets into various literary situations that switch from stupid and goofy (Treasure Island) to psychedelically horrifying (Moby Dick) and we learn that "Fantasy" means crappy pop song with lightning fairies. Because why not. Eventually Richard must face down an evil dragon, grapple with his fears, and most importantly, flee from the library with his books while Christopher Lloyd watches him go, making the most skin-crawlingly awful face EVER:
...So yeah. After that...stuff, we see Richard's parents, seemingly unperturbed by his disappearance, discover him asleep in the unfinished tree house. And what do they do? Only take his glasses, turn off the lantern he had there with him and leave him to death by falling out of a tree-house because you can't see and there are no lights. Great parenting.
So, The Pagemaster is not quite as awesome as I remember from the perspective of an impressionable child. It's dull, weird, Richard is unlikable and Christopher Lloyd's librarian will haunt my dreams forever. Nostalgia can only take you so far, in this case, one and a half catapults out of five.
This is Sugary Cynic, washing my eyes with bleach in the hope that I won't be able to see that face anymore. 'Night!
(When Richard and his book buddies meet the absolutely batshit insane Captain Ahab)
Fantasy: "He's possessed!"
Horror: "He's insane!"
Adventure: "He's my kinda guy!"